Tag Archives: Jenny Ryan

Tropical Fiction – a genre whose time has come!

This is actually a “From the vaults” post, because I’m reblogging most of the original post, Announcing Tropical Fiction – a new genre, from Aug., 2013, with a few changes and an update, after discussing with Tim Baker again about how to best market novels like ours that are set in tropical climes. So, here goes …

I’ve had more than my fair share of ideas in my time – some great, some good, some worth forgetting (although we won’t tell my readers about those ideas, will we, Betty Jane?). No matter what the idea, though, I’ve always tended to think outside the box and come up with a new way of considering every matter at hand.

I was listening to Surf 97.3, Flagler Beach Radio on the Internet recently and the DJ kept talking about all the Trop Rock this station plays. It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant Tropical Rock, beach music – you know, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Jimmy Buffet. And if this can be a category for music then why not …?

Take categorizing fiction, for instance. I have written and published one novel, Island in the Clouds, in a projected series set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where Dennis and I own a home.

cover-susan-full-colour-jan2012

The setting itself is central to the novel. The story would never have been the same had I set it back in Calgary or Toronto or any other place I’ve lived. I know there are many other books like mine that are set in tropical climes and in which that setting becomes very important to the actual telling of the story.

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book's cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book’s cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

So, I thought, what if we were to coin a new name for this genre? I came up with Tropical Fiction and, since it was my idea, after all, I’m going to stretch the parameters to include any writing set in-on-or-near, or written by an author who lives within proximity to, a beach. That way, I can include the books of my good buddy Tim Baker who, coincidentally, writes about Flagler Beach, FL, Home of Surf 97.3 for which he also now works as a DJ! (There’s even a beach on the cover of one of his novels, Unfinished Business, so he gets bonus points!) And W.K. Blais who lives near a beach in California. After all, what’s the point of having a great idea if you can’t spread around the benefits among your friends? (Since first writing this, I have created the promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, and have featured both Tim Baker and W.K. Blais there. And Betty Jane Hegerat for that matter, too!)

Here’s the complete description of my new genre:

Tropical Fiction – Set in the Tropics or Written by a Tropics-based Author – The Ultimate “Beach” Read

I particularly like the Ultimate Beach Read part, because what better reading material is there for enjoying a beach visit (or virtual visit) than a book about or set on a beach? I ask you!

A show of hands now … How many of you remember the novel The Beach by Alex Garland, set in Thailand? (I’m not talking about the movie, but the book.) This book fits very well into my new genre, this new category I’m developing. And how about Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and The Old Man and the Sea. Or Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and the writing of Dominican-born Jean Rhys. Can you think of any others? Please add the titles below in the comments section.

And let’s start bandying about this new genre classification, okay? I’d appreciate your help with getting the word out so this becomes an accepted name for the style of books that I write , and that many others have written – in the past, currently are writing, and will publish in the future.

Or … if you’ve written a book that fits into this category, please tell us about it, and you! Are you living in a tropical place and writing books? Tell us!! Please post a link below. I would eventually like to collect authors’ names and their titles, and will think of a way to list these links, possibly on a permanent page on this blog. That way, we can promote ALL of these books and this new genre of Tropical Fiction to the world!

And here’s the likely cover we’re going with for my next novel … that’s a photo taken by Dennis at least 20 years ago of Industry Beach on Bequia looking out towards the islands of Balliceaux and Battawia. This view still looks pretty much the same today. (Cover designed by Jenny Ryan!)

onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

(I’d better get that second novel finished and published!!)

From the vaults – Publication dreams, and delusions … May 22, 2011

Since I’ve been talking and working with a couple of newly published authors recently, and have written guest posts and given talks on getting your work published, I thought I’d have a look at the process I went through. So I’ve hauled out this blog post I wrote in the early days, when actually seeing my writing in print (these were pre-eBook days, folks!) was still only a pipe dream, but a dream that was shared with many talented friends. Here’s where the design ideas began forming for my first novel, Island in the Clouds, and how an initial concept became the reality. I never did find a traditional publisher interested enough in my manuscript, so I self-published instead and was able to work with that original idea Jenny and I developed a few years before. I have always been pleased with the final result and constantly receive compliments on it! Full credit goes to my friend, Jenny Ryan!

I was chatting online with Jenny Ryan this morning – she in Ottawa and me in Calgary. It’s been too long a time! We first met online while taking the Ryerson Publishing Certificate courses, and have only met in person once, when we were both in Toronto. We hope to meet again this summer, in Toronto, but in the meantime, we caught up today on all of the various things that are happening in our lives right now.

Jenny has always been a terrific designer – she’s a natural at it – having a good eye for cover design even during that first course in Trade Publishing, when we were members of the same “publishing team” set with the task of developing a new list of books for our final assignment. Since graduating, Jenny went on to form a design business, Copper Canary Publishing Services, but now works as a freelance designer. She’s been along with me, almost since the beginning, for this crazy write-and-get-the-damn-novel-published ride I’ve been on, and is a constant source of ideas, comments, criticism, and encouragement the entire time.

I remembered recently that she had also designed a cover for my first mystery novel, Island in the Clouds, just for fun and using a photo I had taken. Here it is …

At that time, I was planning on using my initials for my writing name – until another editing friend pointed out the rather unfortunate double entendre presented by the juxtaposition of those initials with my last name. So now I go by Susan M. Toy instead, there being other SusanToys out there in the world, with a couple of them also being published authors. Yes, I too was surprised by that discovery. Which is why we should all google our names. And why I must now include my initial.

But I still love this particular cover design, and Jenny and I did have fun working on it together. Just as any good publisher/writer relationship should be!

And while this novel may never be published, let alone that this particular cover design be used if I do find a traditional publisher, it makes the entire publishing dream feel as though it’s one step closer to reality.

Thanks, Jenny!

And dreams do have a way of coming true, sometimes! Here’s the final cover (but with a slightly different photo taken by Dennis). It’s all Jenny’s design though, front and back! And that was Jenny’s idea to add the #1 at the top of the spine, too. To keep me working on the rest of the series … Ahem!

island clouds cover spread with spine final

WHO in the World is Reading Island in the Clouds??? – Novel Blurbers and My Writing Possee!

From one of the novel’s blurbers and a member of my online writing possee through Humber, here’s Keri Michaud of Mississauga… This is me reading and enjoying, ISLAND IN THE CLOUDS at a cottage at Pickerel Lake, up north near Huntsville in Ontario.

This is from Jenny Ryan, Ottawa, owner of Copper Canary Publishing Services and my book’s most wonderful designer! And also a member of my Ryerson possee. Before and After. Oh Susan, it’s soooo nice and it has new book smell! Before being as an InDesign file on Jenny’s computer and After as the finished product. Thanks for the collaboration, Jenny!

Then, from Carin Makuz, Whitby, ON, the mail she received one day last week. Carin is among my Humber possee. Hey, Susan M Toy… this is what came in the mail today.

And Lori Hahnel, a writing pal from Calgary, as well as an Alberta Books Canada author, receiving delivery of her copy of Islands at a coffee shop.

Hey, Lori! Look how nicely your two kids are playing with mine!!

And finally, a novel blurber, a member of my Humber possee, and someone I can’t thank enough for all her support over the years – Darcie Friesen Hossack! (Take a bow, Darcemeister!) Darcie sent a picture of my novel as soon as it arrived in the mail. Unfortunately for Darcie, T’Abigail had her paws on it first to read!

Here’s a copy of Islands getting to know Darcie’s collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance.

Darcie has been running a contest in her food column and over at her blogsite, Nice Fat Gurdie and there’s still another day to enter! You’ll win a copy of my book! Go to Darcie’s blogsite – NOW!!

Island in the Clouds – at Wolfe Lake!

Jenny Ryan designed the fine cover of my novel. (Also the spine and backcover, but you won’t see those until the print edition is released.) She has edited for me, fixes up my photos, creates the types of files that I need, develops ads at the drop of a hat, and all kinds of other great stuff! Jenny is co-owner of Copper Canary, a business specializing in print and electronic communications.

But I “met” her many years ago when we took a class in Trade Publishing through Ryerson’s online Publishing Certificate Program. Unlike me, Jenny actually finished the certificate and on 2 awards from Ryerson: the 2007 Eve Orpen Memorial Award, and the 2008 Wallace A. Matheson Award for Creativity and Innovation in Educational Publishing. We’ve only met once in real life – we had dinner together in Toronto. Almost all our correspondence and collaboration has been via email. (I think we spoke one time using gmail chat.) Yet Jenny seems like a very close friend, in spite of the distance between Ottawa and Calgary, or Bequia, where I was living when we took that initial course. She has been in on this novel almost since the beginning and has read several versions, offering advice and suggestions as to how I could make it better. She has certainly had a big part in making it look better!

Jenny offer’s pictures now, not of her reading my novel, but of her mother, Mary, reading Island in the Clouds on her Kindle at the cottage on Wolfe Lake near Westport, Ontario. Jenny says this is only the second eBook her mother has read.

And just to show the difference between what Mary is reading about inside the cottage and what’s going on in the real world, Jenny sends a picture, taken this morning, of the lake… Brrr! Throw another log on the fire and keep reading, Mary!

Thanks, Jenny – for everything!